During their friendly locker room banter, the older of the two men jokingly described himself as a leg man. His occasional golf partner chuckled in understanding and followed with, “I’m more of a breast man, myself.”  The two laughed at their mutual admiration of and erotic attraction to feminine beauty. Male eroticism is its own distinct facet of masculinity, about which many women may have difficulty appreciating.

    Generally, male eroticism is distrusted. To it negative associations of being lusty, animalistic, amoral and unquenchable are applied. Especially women who have been hurt by men are apt to describe it pejoratively as being pig or dog-like. Intense for men and commonly uncomfortable for their female partners, this raw energy is a struggle for many couples. Often, romantic partners do not cope well with it and fail to integrate it into their mutual love.  While feminine influence is on the rise, coincidentally, male eroticism is under attack. In their strong sexual desire and at-times boundary-busting fantasies, men are relating to Eros, the God of love.  Each man, internally, lives out this primitive energy as an urgent drive to connect with life and merge physically. It is so urgent that many men struggle to contain it while staying within social and moral boundaries.  Erotic energy is not limited by moral or ethical considerations.

    As a combination of the love energy and the man’s unique emotional make-up, his eroticism gets manifest in the form of specific sexual turn-ons. Men’s eroticism tends towards fetish-like interests, a narrow focus on body-parts or detailed sexual scenarios. This is to be contrasted with female eroticism which tends to be based on relationships.  

    Pornography, its debate about moral or immorality aside, is living evidence of the force and variability of male eroticism. To learn more about it, take a look online. Pornography is a medium that is overwhelmingly made by men, for men, solely for the satisfaction of their erotic needs. Perusing the online erotic offerings demonstrates that featured images, videos and online experiences, such as live video chat, are tailored to suit very specific sexual tastes. Represented here are the broad variations of sexual interests men possess.

    For example, many men are excited by women’s breasts.  As a result hundreds, if not thousands of pornographic websites specifically cater to the erotic nature of breasts. Thousands of categories, each attending to a very particular sexual variation populate the variety of online pornography. Erotic categories may be very narrow in scope, a testimony to how specific men’s sexual interests can be.  Because sexual energy is not defined by limits, erotic interests that are unhealthy and harmful are also present online.    

    The prevalence of online porn indicates that the importance for men to satisfy their erotic urges is high. Porn is fantasy material that does not always express a wish to make such activities real.  Men turn to porn often as a substitute because a real and satisfying experience is unavailable.  Men may be too embarrassed or ashamed to describe their eroticism to their partners. Some have done so and have been rejected, criticized, ridiculed, or dismissed. The hurt registered from such a wounding is too painful to risk again, thus many men react by taking their sexuality away from their partners.

    Each man’s erotic nature is as individual as a finger print. It is a product of his early life environment, experiences and unique childhood reaction to it. To openly share it causes intense vulnerability.  Relationships, which strive to attain mutual acceptance, are often limited in their potential to achieve this ideal in part because of the challenge male eroticism represents. Without his eroticism being understood, many a man consciously or not experiences painful isolation.

   The female partner who is open to learning about her male partner’s eroticism is rare and special.  Understanding and accepting his erotic feelings may be different than participating in it. Just because a very specific sex act turns a man on, it remains his responsibility to prevent this from causing harm. Accepting all of him is different than agreeing with him. Making your relationship an emotionally safe place where both of you can be completely free to be yourselves.  To do so provides the best chance for couples to embody the ideals of love.  Andrew Aaron, LICSW